When I first became a Christian, I really didn’t want to hear anything about spiritual warfare. I just wanted Jesus. I didn’t ask for any war. And if I can be honest with you, I was scared. Talk of an enemy that wanted to kill, steal, and destroy me wasn’t something I wanted to think about at all.
Interestingly enough, the enemy didn’t want me thinking about it either. This way I’d be an easy target for his schemes and tricks and unprepared for the plans he had to harm me. As I’ve grown in Christ and studied God’s Word, I now find myself more courageous and empowered when it comes to spiritual warfare.
Spiritual warfare involves the attempts of Satan to steal from believers what’s theirs in Christ, kill their relationship with God, and destroy the abundant life given to them by Christ. Sounds like a lot, I know, but as a believer, you have everything you need to be victorious over this already defeated enemy.
If you’re not familiar with spiritual warfare or want to learn more, here are ten things to know about spiritual battle and how the enemy attacks.
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1. It's going to happen.
You can ignore it. You can act like it’s not real. You can think it won’t happen to you. But none of that will change the fact that spiritual warfare happens to all believers. If you are a Christian, you are a target. 1 Peter tells us:
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 ESV)
The enemy would love for you to ignore his plans to destroy you. Then you’d forget knowing and using the powerful gifts that are yours in Christ to fight back. So the first thing all believes need to know about spiritual warfare is that it’s real. But there is no need to fear because . . .
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2. You have power.
God has not left us unarmed. He has instead equipped us with every weapon necessary for victorious living in Christ. I use to be afraid of the devil until I learned about the power I have in Christ. It was then I realized the enemy should be afraid of me. And guess what? He’s afraid of you too. He’s afraid you will pick up your weapons of warfare and render him ineffective. Ephesians 6 tells us to:
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:11 ESV)
Whatever the enemy throws at you, you are protected with the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, feet fitted with the readiness of the Gospel, the shield of faith, and the helmet of salvation (Ephesians 6:10-20). God has graciously given us everything we need to withstand attacks from the enemy. But we’re not only empowered to protect ourselves. God has also empowered us to fight back with the sword of the Spirit.
3. God's word is your greatest weapon.
The sword of the Spirit, meaning the word of God, is our greatest weapon against the enemy. Each time the enemy tried to tempt Jesus in Matthew 4:1-11 Jesus fought back with the word of God. And the same victory that is Jesus’ is also ours because we have access to that same Word. The enemy’s greatest attacks always involve getting us to believe a lie.
But if we already know the truth, we can’t be deceived. God’s word is the truth. Knowing the Bible is not only for pastors and theologians. It’s for you and me. It’s for everyday believers fighting for the abundant life that is rightfully ours in Christ. That Bible on your nightstand or Bible app on your phone has way more power than we give it credit. If we want to live victorious in the face of spiritual warfare, we better open our bibles.
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4. The enemy’s primary goal is to distance you from God.
Many think the enemy’s goal is to hurt us by making life uncomfortable or painful. The truth is he doesn’t care how uncomfortable we are. His primary goal is to distance us from God. If that looks like tempting us with good things to keep our focus off Christ, then that’s precisely what he’ll do. The enemy doesn’t always attract us with bad things. Sometimes, many times, he uses the good and comfortable in this world to distance us from God. Because the farther away we are from God, the less power we have over spiritual warfare.
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5. You are already victorious in Christ.
Christ’s victory on the cross was also our victory. Jesus defeated the enemy on Calvary. He was defeated then, and he is still defeated now. There is no need to fear an already defeated enemy. He may try to puff himself up to scare you, but always remember these powerful words of John:
“Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4 ESV)
I’ve just listed five things you need to know about spiritual warfare. Now, I want to share five ways the enemy attacks:
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6. You are more prone to attack when you’re tired.
If there’s one thing I know about the enemy, it’s that he does not fight fair. If you’re down, he will kick you. Whether you had to work long hours, were up late with the baby, or just got over a cold you’re more vulnerable for attack when you are physically tired.
Most times you may not be able to do anything about this, but simply being aware of your vulnerability helps tremendously. Then the attacks won’t seem to come out of nowhere. You know exactly where they are coming from and can send up a quick prayer for strength and protection. In our weakness, we can rely on God’s strength. The enemy has no chance of winning when up against the power of God.
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7. You’re more prone to attack when you’re distracted.
If the enemy can distract you with drama, social media, or busyness then he will. Distractions will not always be sinful. They just have to be enough to get your focus off God, which we’ve already addressed as the enemy’s primary goal anyway. This is his goal because he knows if he can disconnect you from God, he’s disconnected you from your power to defeat him.
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8. You’re more prone to attack when you’re in sin.
God gives us guidance for living in the Bible. These rules are not set in place just for the sake of it, or so God can show off His rule over us. God has set these principals for living in place to protect us. They keep us in alignment with his plan and will for our lives. Following God does not mean we will never get hurt but when we are out of His will, we willingly open ourselves up for attack.
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9. You’re more prone to attack when you’re alone.
The enemy wants to isolate you because that’s when you are incredibly vulnerable. He will plant lies in your head to convince you that you don’t need anyone or that no one can be trusted. Don’t fall for this trick. We were made for community, and there is power in numbers. We are called to carry one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), and the Bible tells us that it’s the Church that will be victorious in the end (Matthew 16:18).
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10. You’re more prone to attack when you’re discouraged.
Throughout scriptures, God tells His people to be courageous. He does so because living for God takes courage. Knowing this, the enemy will do everything in his power to discourage us. He’ll plant seeds of doubt, insecurity, and guilt to paralyze us with fear. But God has not given us a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7). Jesus tells us we can be encouraged because He has already overcome the world.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)
Christina Patterson is a wife and stay-at-home mom with a passion to encourage women in the love of Jesus Christ and the truth of God’s Word. When she is not folding laundry or playing blocks you will find her with her head deep in her Bible or a commentary. She holds her masters in Theology from Liberty University and is the founder of Beloved Women, a non-profit providing resources and community for women to truly know who they are in Christ: His Beloved. She blogs at belovedwomen.org.
Originally published Friday, 01 March 2019.